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Sunday, March 22, 2009
Ice dance competition left wide open

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Reigning ice dance champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder will miss the world figure skating championships because Delobel is recovering from shoulder surgery.

The French pair won their first three competitions of the season, including the Grand Prix final. But she hurt her shoulder in December, and won't finish rehab from the Jan. 5 surgery until the end of this month. The world championships begin Tuesday with the compulsory dance.

"The damage was more serious than expected," Delobel said this month. She said she knew rehab would require more time than initially thought.

Zoe Blanc and Pierre-Loup Bouquet are taking Delobel and Schoenfelder's spot at worlds.

The absence of Delobel and Schoenfelder leaves the ice dance title wide open. Reigning silver medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada returned to the ice only in December after she had surgery to relieve pain in her shins.

Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto missed the U.S. championships because of his back injury, and former Grand Prix final winners Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin withdrew from the European championships after he aggravated a knee injury.